Thursday, August 6

The road to greater things


AS a big Sarawakian family, we have walked and worked together, we have moments of challenges and successes as well as of sadness, joys and laughter.

I am thankful we have all lived and shared 2016 together and look forward to living and sharing 2017 and beyond together as well.

My dear father had passed on in 2016 but he is forever beaming his habitually gentle and approving smile whenever I think of him. I lost a dear brother Bill Kayong in the same year but it is heartening his colleagues, comrades and those inspired by him are continuing his bravery, persevering and furthering the cause.

The apex court dealt a crashing blow to the legal crusade for native customary land rights by declaring that pemakai menoa and pulau galau are recognised indigenous customs to demarcate and identify ancestral land but they have “no force of law”.

The Sarawakian political arena, distinct from the doom and gloom national scene, was buzzing with the new occupant of the Sarawak Office No. 1 and the Chief Minister turned his remarkable popularity into a commanding electoral mandate.

It was a feat for Batu Lintang and some of my Pakatan colleagues to withstand the blitz of Team Adenan, but we must continue to work harder.

Beefing up our team, we have added three full-time workhorses, two lawyers and a law student to the force to meet the growing challenges to better serve the people and country.

The legal workhorses are good and will attend to the public and double up to safeguarding rights, ensuring justice, preserving and enlarging freedom. The law is a powerful and useful tool to effect the changes we wish to see.

I digress to a delightful discovery. I have learnt the many terms used to describe a group of horses: the farmer has a “harras”, a billionaire may own a “stud” and the CM may engage a “ranch”. Mine is a happy and spirited “team”, working together for a common cause.

2017 will be an exciting year. The team must spearhead the political and legal vocation for Sarawak’s constitutional rights and privileges; administrative integrity, fairness and justice to safeguard and advance the interests of the commons. And Sarawak must take the lead in transforming the country into a better place for all living and the future generations to come.

We reflect on what we have achieved – what and how we could have done right, and what lies ahead in the new year, strengthening the affiliation and camaraderie and motivating the enthusiasm for all to work and walk together in the coming year.

Even the Disney channel has been airing its flashback for 2016 with sneak previews of shows and movies slated for 2017, thrilling and captivating the young and old for 15 seconds before it ends with the customary Disney fireworks and the promises of a “Fabulous 2017” and “2017 will be awesome” ringing in everyone’s ear.

The children will be with them, even some adults too, eager to follow the exciting shows and touching movies. With those determined eyes fixed on the heavy traffic zooming on the highway, I am certainly interested in finding out “How does Mickey cross the road?”

From crossing the road to staying on the road, I read the State CEO’s Christmas message that we are on the road to greater things.

The CEO was in Melbourne, Australia, posing with his beloved half in front of a giant Christmas tree. With the same picture published prominently in all Sarawakian papers, it appears that the CEO is standing in front of an enthusiastic Sarawakian audience, patiently listening to his Christmas and New Year message.

It is the CM’s way of delivering his New Year message – on the Eve of Christmas. I like the presentation of last year’s message more. It had created more excitement when the ‘Christmas 2015 and New Year 2016’ video was posted in the official website of the CM’s Office. It was a short message but the ‘face-to-face’ engagement with Sarawakians had kept the message more real.

But, of course, as the CEO of the state administration, the citizenry has an expectation to hear or read the message, not that the CEO thought he should deliver the message as he had done over the years, merely going through the motions.

As the New Year message of a television channel had shown, it expressed appreciation to its viewers, reinforced their sense of belonging and outline their expectations to create the excitement for the year to come.

Was it a good year for the CEO? It certainly is. An approval rating of almost 90 per cent was the highest ever achieved by any CEO in any year so far. Maybe a “thank you” was in order? The ordinary citizen and the people who have worked for you in the year will be proud to receive an expression of gratitude from the CEO.

Outline the key achievements and challenges weathered through, particularly the ones that all the ordinary citizens were involved in, to strengthen their resolve and collective commitment to scale more challenges.

If I were the CEO, I would certainly admit they were rough patches: we have not secured the financial support from the Big Brother to fund our rural transformation initiatives and we have to renege on the motion to amend Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution, to mention a few in passing.

By doing that, we acknowledged that certain strategies may have failed to yield results but we will meet those challenges with different strategies and achieve the results in the new year.

Indeed, the CEO must be upbeat to give his followers hope, outline his vision to inspire and cheer them to be positive and believe that we will overcome the challenges in the New Year.

“We are on the road to greater things.”

But What? When? How?

Sarawakians have shown they have faith in the CEO, at least until the conclusion of the state election or the last quarter of the year.

The CEO reiterated the state’s stand on English, exhorted Sarawakians to safeguard unity and protect the environment. What about Sarawak’s autonomy, devolution of powers, our petroleum and forest resources?

Somehow, we have no idea what are the missions and the visions have left for the new year.

The CEO had opted for negotiation than confrontation but the strategy did not seem to bear fruit in the year. Should we revise and improve on our strategies?

The biggest flaw lies in the fact that people have no part to play in the quest to accomplish the vision for Sarawak.

What can Sarawakians do to contribute to the CEO’s “vision” for a better Sarawak?

Are there really greater things awaiting us if Sarawakians instinctively stay on the road? Or should Sarawakians cross the road?

Thank you, everyone. Let us continue to walk and work together for a better future for Sarawak.